Laura Donovan
July 23, 2014 2:55 pm

Blake Lively, Blake Lively, Blake Lively. I’ve been a huge fan of the towering former Gossip Girl since she owned the role of Bridget Vreeland in the 2005 hit The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Since then, she’s inspired billions of Serena Van Der Woodsen gifs, racked up a few blockbusters and settled down in the suburbs with Ryan Reynolds. Now that she’s tabling showbiz for a bit, the California native is focusing on Preserve, her “part magazine, part e-commerce hub, part philanthropic endeavor.” Like you haven’t heard about it. Since its launch this week, it’s all the Interwebz is talking about.

Lively was prepared for the critical reception. She said she knew her product would be picked apart. She was right about that. The site confused some, annoyed others, and inspired the inevitable comparisons to Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop. But I am of a different opinion. I think it’s original, intriguing and full of potential. I cannot wait to see Preserve grow and thrive. Here are some reasons I’m beyond thrilled about the birth of Lively’s passion project:

1. It’s very visual

Lively, who is also famous for being her own personal stylist, has always had an eye for design as well as a strong sense of what looks good. You can tell from Preserve that she really values good visuals—the site has striking images and a beautiful layout. She totally lives up to the promise of delivering an online magazine—this is no weekly newsletter, or small-scale blog.

2. She makes fun of herself a little bit

Lively’s first Letter to the Editor has gotten mixed reviews from critics, but I found it to be really warm and inviting, not to mention humble, “Sitting down to write this editor’s letter has been the hardest thing I’ve done yet on my Preserve journey. I’m more intimidated than I should probably admit. I’m no editor, no artisan, no expert. And certainly no arbiter of what you should buy, wear, or eat. I am hungry, though. . . not just for enchiladas. I’m hungry for experience. I’m comfortable with the knowledge that I’m not a teacher, but rather, a student. I don’t do any one thing perfectly. I do a lot of things though. Some well, some not-so-well.”

I like that she can be funny but also admit she’s dabbling into worlds previously unknown to her. She’s never worked in online media or edited a website before, and she readily admits that. She’s just trying something new in her career—something a lot of us can relate to—and she’s really excited about the adventures it will bring, even though she knows there will be trial and error along the way.

3. Preserve has quality writing

The original content is surprisingly good. I was particularly taken with one article on the art of letter writing by Preserve’s Cristina Black. “Unlike ephemeral texts and emails and Snapchats, a letter is a treasure,” writes Black, a professional journalist whose work has been featured in LA Weekly, Paper Magazine and the Village Voice. “It is deliberate and full of thought. It instills importance in its contents and in its receiver. When you write things out in longhand, you tend to be more careful with your words.” I couldn’t agree more with this post, and I’m also impressed with Black’s writing.

Clearly, good content is something that matters to her boss. In a recent Vogue interview, Lively revealed her passion for language. “My dad was an English professor,” she said. “There’s always a more eloquent, descriptive word.”

4. Ryan Reynolds is going to contribute

Reynolds, who wed Lively two years ago, will be lending his prowess to Preserve in a major way. “He’s a part of it because everything we do in life we do together,” Lively told Vogue. “If I’m working on a movie, he helps me with my character; I do the same with him. Picking out a coffee table. What we’re going to eat. He’s a beautiful writer—he’s written a lot of stuff for us. And he’s got a great barometer and he knows me, so he will tell me if it’s not as good as it can be.” Can’t wait to see his byline!

5. It has some reasonable (gorgeous) products

Goop was smeared for only selling absurdly expensive items when it debuted, and while Preserve definitely sells pricey stuff, it also features reasonable products with price tags similar to what you’d see on Etsy, Stella & Dot, etc. The gorgeous earrings above, for example, are just $30. There’s also this $138 maxi dress and if that’s too pricey, there’s this $7 ketchup. OK, that may be a lot for a jar of ketchup, but come on, it’s probably pretty delicious.

6. Every item has a story

Preserve isn’t just a magazine, and it isn’t just a store—it’s a virtual gallery. Lively reveals the story of the artisans and their products so customers know how much love and history went into their purchases. Here’s a description of this handmade mug: “Its blue lines seem never-ending, stretching round a cylinder of smooth white clay. . . Ceramics artist Brooke Winfrey creates minimal pieces that embrace the playful idiosyncrasies of clay. Eschewing straight lines and even textures, she highlights the natural creation process with a minimalist mix of rough edges, smooth surfaces and flowing forms, imitating the wonderful irregularities of life itself.”

7. The site has a Southern feel to it

Lively hails from LA, but both her parents grew up in the South, so she was heavily influenced by their upbringing. (Remember her Charleston wedding?) Preserve definitely has a Southern vibe—from its New Orleans-inspired recipes to its savory barbeque sauce. It’s a refreshing change from all the New York and LA-inspired sites on the Internet, and it definitely sets Preserve apart.

(Featured image via and other images via PRESERVE, Tumblr, ShutterStock and PopSugar)

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